You finally started your own business or private practice. And, now, you’re in hell.
It’s three years in, and things aren’t going as planned.
Growth is slow, you’re spending so much time doing the grunt work and servicing customers, you have no time to focus on the big picture. Growth has stalled. Even if you’re growing, the grind is killing you. Your health and waistline, bahahahahaha. Gave that up long ago. Relationships, oy vey. Joy, done.
You secretly yearn for regular hours and a reliable paycheck, even if it means dealing with an idiot for a boss and purposeless existence.
So, you sit around, looking for a sign from God. And you’re not sure if you want her to tell you to continue, or to walk away. It’s not that you don’t believe there’s still great potential, it’s just that you have no idea how to right the ship and you feel like a prisoner.
I’ve had this conversation with so many entrepreneurs, and shared the cautionary tale with so many aspiring entrepreneurs.
Being your own boss, doesn’t automatically put you on the “yay train.”
So many entrepreneurs unwittingly build their own stress-addled, cash-poor cages, rather than engines of freedom, expression and connection. Not because they’re stupid or incapable, but because they learned how to serve others, but not themselves.
The Cult of the Customer.
The world of entrepreneurship is maniacally customer oriented these days. Identify and develop the customer, we’re told. It’s important, you don’t have a business without a customer. But, guess what…
Without a business that serves as a simultaneous engine not just of revenue and service, but of personal expression, connection, freedom and purpose, you don’t have a life!
Doesn’t matter how much money you make, or how many people you’re serving, every day you go to work will suck. Which means every day will suck, because you will always be working. Never having understood what you really wanted, or how to build something that not only gives the customer what he wants, but also gives you what you need.
While this phenomenon is rampant and growing in the world of startups and bootstrapped entrepreneurs, it’s also rampant in the world of private-practice professionals, creative pros, and even employees.
Entrepreneurship is not about building a great business, it’s about building a great life.
But, you will never get what you want from the way you contribute to the world until you learn how to align your actions with your essence. And you cannot do that until you know who you are.
If your work lights you up, lets you express yourself, tap fiercely into your potential, play with people you love and earn enough to live well in the world, rock on. If not…
Do NOT pass go.
Do NOT suffer onward.
Do NOT keep welding the bars of your cage thicker and thicker.
1. What do I care about?
2. What do I hold sacred, both in business and life?
3. What lights me up, what would I work hard to do for free?
4. What empties me out, emotionally, psychologically and physically?
5. Who do I want to serve?
6. Do I care more about serving or building?
7. What do I value on a non-negotiable level?
8.What am I great at?
9. What am I terrible at?
10. How do I want to spend each day?
11. How do I want to live my life?
This is just the beginning of the inquiry, but if you start with these 11 prompts, you’ll have done vastly more than the average entrepreneur or aspiring entrepreneur or, frankly, even the average human to start to understanding who you are and what you need.
And, you’ll start to cultivate the level of self-knowledge needed to build something that not only makes money and serves a need, but also serves you and the life you seek to create.
Entrepreneurial failure to thrive isn’t just about a lack of money, knowledge or skill, it runs far deeper. With rare exception, it’s deeply rooted in self-ignorance.
Know yourself. Express yourself. Master yourself.
Then, build around that.
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